A Piece of Advice

I wish my family supports my relationship, what do I do?

3 mins. read

Topics: Getting Serious,Dating,Same-Sex,Age Gap,Inter-class,Inter-Faith,Inter-caste,Inter-racial

Without knowing the specifics of your situation, I’m going to go ahead and guess that 1) you’re in an untraditional relationship, and 2) your family doesn’t approve because it’s an unconventional relationship and not because they have some other concern (e.g., a partner who doesn’t treat you well). Assuming all of this is true, it can feel pretty hard and stressful not to have family approval and support when it comes to your relationship. In fact, research suggests that it’s actually the reactions of friends and family that mean the most and have the biggest impact on couples. So what can you do?

It depends on what result you’re hoping to achieve. If your goal is to find a way to change your family members’ minds about your relationship, then in one sense there’s nothing you can do. There’s a line between what we as humans can control and what we can’t. We can share the most compelling points we can think of in an attempt to convince loved ones to take a different perspective, but we can’t literally force them to think or behave differently. They have to be willing to listen and change.

However, if your goal is to create moments in which your family might start to shift their attitude, then you can do something:

  1. See if your family is willing and able to have a calm, civil dialogue with you about your relationship and their feelings about it. Not all families are willing to do this, but if they are, that’s a positive sign. In that conversation, focus on listening and asking questions to see if you can find out more about the issue they have with your relationship. Some research suggests that even when loved ones’ voice specific worries, these could still be prejudice in disguise, so bear that in mind when you’re having the conversation.
  2. Find out whether your family would be willing to get to know your partner. If they are, find an occasion where all of you are able to spend time together. Research suggests that when people are aware that someone from a group they identify with (e.g., same race, religious faith, social class) has a good relationship with someone from another group (e.g., a different race, religious faith, social class), their outlook toward that person’s group also improve. So being able to spend quality time with your partner, and getting a chance to see that the relationship is getting along well, may help increase acceptance toward your partner and your bond.

No matter whether they change their minds or not, it’s not your fault that they have an issue with your relationship. And if they don’t come around, relationship science points to other ways partners cope with a lack of family approval. For example, you may decide to stand in solidarity with your partner or seek out friends and communities who can provide support and validation for your relationship where your family does not. Don’t feel like you have to go through this alone. Your partner is there with you, so keep communication open in your relationship and support each other through it.

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Did You Know

46% of youths fear discrimination or public shame when in an unconventional relationship.